Arrive Alive

Involuntary

WHAT IF MECHANICAL FAILURE CAUSES THE CAR TO STOP?

Involuntary stop

What do you do when your car suddenly stops? Reach for your cellphone, certainly. Meanwhile, it's always a good idea to try to find the fault. If the breakdown is accompanied by clanking noises, or if some of the wheels have locked up, then it's most likely a serious problem. If there was no noise then there's a good chance that something small has gone wrong.

The first step is to take a good look under the bonnet for broken wires, a broken fuel pipe or any other obviously broken or leaking component. If there's no obvious fault, then you can swing into action by performing the following checks:

  1. What does the fuel gauge show? Running out of fuel happens to everybody occasionally.
  2. Check for a high-tension spark. Remove one of the plug leads and hold it close to a metal part of the cylinder head while somebody else winds the starter, with the ignition switched on. Ensure that you are not touching any metallic part of the plug lead, or you may get a nasty shock, literally. You should see an intense blue spark, if it's weak and yellow, or if there is no sign of a spark, inspect the rotor arm underneath the distributor cap, ensuring that it is not broken, or worn out. Also check that the carbon brush in the center of the cap is making contact with the rotor arm. If these items are in good condition, look at the low tension side.
  3. The low-tension wire runs from the ignition coil to the side of the distributor. It is a thin wire that often breaks off just where it enters the distributor. If it is intact, and if the car has an old-fashioned distributor with points, then you should take the distributor cap off and open the points slightly with a screwdriver while the ignition is switched on. A small spark should jump as you open the points. If the spark is visible then you can normally assume the low-tension side is fine, but if it is absent then there is some malfunction in the wiring. If the points are open when you remove the cap then you have to rotate the engine by means of the starter until they're in the closed position, before you try to open them.
  4. The last check is to make sure that fuel is reaching the carburetor. Remove the top part of the air cleaner, and see if fuel squirts into the carb throat when you move the arm attached to the throttle butterfly.

These checks will normally locate a significant portion of the causes of roadside stoppages.

Tips provided by CARToday.com/CAR Magazine

Loading...

Search Road Safety Articles

Latest Pages

Overhang from a vehicle and flags for Safety

Overhang from a vehicle and flags for Safety

Introduction: We often find drivers transporting goods and materials that cannot safely fit inside their vehicles. This need not be your usual overloading but rather instances where the obect is to lengthy or wide to fit in the vehicle. These objects such as ladders are then transported on the

Read More

Car Rental and Road Safety

Car Rental and Road Safety

Background Information South Africa has become a tourist destination of choice and planning after the World Cup in 2010 will further strive to enhance the safety of visitors. Car Rental companies have an important role to play in enhancing the safety of business people and tourists on our roads. Many

Read More

Safe driving in the mountains / mountain passes

Safe driving in the mountains / mountain passes

Introduction With a rather extensive road network across South Africa drivers are bound to traverse across mountains and mountain passes at some time. Even though this may be an exhilarating experience, we often find drivers behind the wheel without the necessary experience and awareness of the unique

Read More

Safe Driving and Towing a Trailer Safely

Safe Driving and Towing a Trailer Safely

Introduction to trailers and safer driving in South Africa In many recent crash reports, a trailer is found somewhere on or near the crash scene. Surveys confirm that many trailer owners are not fully aware of the safest method of towing cargo. We need to recognize that safety information is important

Read More

MasterDrive and Road Safety

MasterDrive and Road Safety

MasterDrive is a result-driven, driver training organisation that engages with and assists companies in managing driver risk interventions. The company was established in 1999 and became part of the RAC Group (established in 1997). By 2008 MasterDrive expanded its field of operation to cover the African

Read More

Safety from Fire at our Homes

Safety from Fire at our Homes

Emergency personnel have to respond to fires at homes and informal settlements across South Africa. In the bitterly cold winter weather, the risk of injury from fire significantly increases. We received safety information from both ER24 and the KZN Emergency services on how to protect ourselves from

Read More

Load More Pages

Partners

View All